Unfortunately, for those individuals who did not use direct coping strategies but instead used the kind of coping that distances ones thoughts, emotions, and physical presence from the stressor (e.g., denial and wishful thinking) or disengages completely (e.g., escape and emotional numbing) to cope with discrimination stress tended to have lower self-esteem.
Consequences/Effects of Low Self-Esteem
A number of studies have shown that low self-esteem is predictive of negative outcomes. Parker et al. (2005) found that girls and adolescents with low self-worth reported the greatest jealousy of friends and that a reputation for being jealous of friends was associated with aggressive behavior and other peer adjustment difficulties, including loneliness.
Donnellan et al. (2005) found a link between low self-esteem and externalizing problems such as aggression, antisocial behavior, and delinquency. The authors cited Rosenberg (1965), who suggested that low self-esteem weakens ties to society and weaker ties to society decrease conformity to social norms and increase delinquency.
Other research has linked low self-esteem to substance abuse, depression, and suicidal ideation (Donnellan et al., 2005; Rew, 2005).
Change in Self-Esteem and Rerouting of Possible Consequences
But what of adolescents who have authoritarian or neglectful parents and feel outside the “in-group”? Are they doomed to have low self-esteem and a higher probability of antisocial behavior?
The results of the study by Edwards and Romero (2008), described earlier, indicate otherwise. Adolescents who used direct coping strategies to deal with the stress of discrimination and thereby decreased the effect of discrimination on self-esteem did not follow the poor early environment-low self-esteem-negative outcome sequence. These children would be considered resilient. Rew (2005) identified resilient children as those whose coping mechanisms and cognitive styles protect them from adverse outcomes in spite of poor early environments (such as those with parental discord, criminality or psychiatric disorder). She also listed some of the qualities within the individual that make for resilience:
Temperament (affectionate, alert, responsive)
Sense of humor
Having self-care strategies
Internal locus of control
Religious beliefs and activities
Skills (athletic, artistic, academic)
Engages in extracurricular activities
Takes care of younger child or pet
Werners (1993) well-regarded Kauai longitudinal study also argues against a predetermined sequence of environmental hazard leading to low self-esteem leading to poor adjustment.
Werner found that most individuals in a multiracial cohort of children who were exposed at an early age to environmental hazards became competent, caring adults. Werner used the term protective factors to explain her findings. (Rutter — cited by Rew (2005) — defined protective factors as those “influences that modify, ameliorate, or alter a persons response to some environmental hazard that predisposes to a maladaptive outcome” (p. 203). Some of the relevant protective factors are:
Caring adults (teachers, pastors, church members)
Those who exhibit prosocial values and behaviors
Value placed on individuals contributions to the community
Access to resources such as health-care facilities
Positive role-modeling by adults
Clear and consistent boundaries
Werner concluded her article with a sentence that seems appropriate here: “The individuals in our study who overcame the odds and grew into competent and caring adults . . . told their life stories . . . without rancor, but with a sense of compassion and, above all, with optimism and hopefulness.”
Donnellan, M.B., Trzesniewski, K.H., Robins, R.W., Moffitt, T.E. & Caspi, A. (2005). Low self-esteem is related to aggression, antisocial behavior, and delinquency. Psychological Science, 15, 328-335.
Edwards, L.M. & Romero, A.J. (2008). Coping with discrimination among Mexican descent adolescents. Marquette University Education Faculty Research and Publications. Retrieved from http://epublications.marquette.edu/edu fac/59.
Krayer, A., Ingledew, D.K. & Iphofen, K. (2008). Social comparison and body image in adolescence: a grounded theory approach. Health Education Research, 23. 892-903.
Martinez, I & Garcia, J.F. (2008). Internalization of values and self-esteem among Brazilian teenagers from authoritative, indulgent, authoritarian, and neglectful homes. Adolescence, 43, 19-29.
Parker, J.G., Low, C.M., Walker, A.R., & Gamm, B.K. (2005). Friendship jealousy in young adolescents: Individual differences and links to sex, self-esteem, aggression, and social adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 41, 235 — 250. doi: 10.1037/0012-1618.104.22.168
Rew, L. (2005). Adolescent health: A multidisciplinary approach to theory, research, and intervention. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Robins, R.W. & Trzesniewski
http://cdp.sagepub.com/content/14/3/158.short l “aff-2,” K.H. (2005). Self-esteem development across the lifespan. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14, 158-162. doi: 10.1111/j.0963-7214.2005.00353
Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent.